Ralph's Mine Disaster 1914

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 12 Sep 1914 [unknown]
Location: Huntly, Waikato, North Island, New Zealandmap
Surnames/tags: Mining_Disasters New Zealand Disasters
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Disasters | Mining Disasters |New Zealand Mining Disasters | Ralph's Mine Disaster


History and Circumstances

Huntly's History

Originally a Māori settlement called Rāhui Pōkeka, Huntly became a military outpost during the Waikato Wars and later grew to become a mining settlement.

After the Waikato and Land Wars some of the soldiers were granted land in the area. Most of the grants were 50 acres/20.2 hectares, and were on the east side of the river. This was the beginning of the settlement of Huntly.

The name of Huntly came from the postmaster, James Henry in 1870 when he used the post stamp from his home town of Huntley Lodge, Scotland. Eventually the "lodge" and "e" were dropped from the name.

The Ralph family was also one of our early families, and began working the first mine in the east side of the river. While mining this site, on the hill behind today's brickworks, fire-clay was discovered. A brickworks was then established. This brick went into the building of buildings around Huntly, many of which still stand like the Huntly War Memorial Hall.[1]

Huntly expanded when commercial coal mining began. In 1874 Captain Anthony Ralph, a former Waikato militiaman who had been granted land nearby, registered the Taupiri Coal Mining Company, and Ralph’s mine opened in 1876. Companies owned by the Ralph family dominated the industry until the 1940s.

Huntly developed as a tight-knit working-class community. Many miners came from the South Island’s West Coast, and the north of England and Scotland. Local Māori also entered the industry in large numbers. Huntly miners stopped work for three months during the 1913 general strike. On 12 September 1914, 43 miners were killed in an explosion in Ralph’s mine.

Brick making began at Huntly in 1884. The dominant firm, the Huntly Brick and Fireclay Company, was established in 1911. After several name changes, it was still operating in the 2010s as Shinagawa Refractories. Many buildings in the town are made of Huntly brick, including the Masonic Lodge, St Paul’s Anglican church, and the former Huntly Hospital, and it is a widely used building material throughout the region..[2]

Mine History

Mine Disaster Circumstances

Investigation Report

Miner Victims

On the 19 April 2009, a memorial board listing all the victims of the Ralph Mine disaster was unveiled at the Huntly Cemetery.

43 Miners Lost Their Lives
Name Occupation Age Approx DOB Status Family Left Notes/Aka
ALLEN, William Machine Boy 18 1896 Single
BAKER, Thomas 37 1877
BERRY, Thomas Winch driver 29 1885 Single Body recovered in the sump in No 7 Level
BLENKINSOP, William Shooter 37 1877 Married Widow & 4 children under 14 years BLENKINSOPP
BOWLER, John Trucker 23 1891 Single
BROCKLEBANK, William Snr Shooter 52 1862 Married Widow & 1 child under 14 Son survived with some injuries
BURT, Hutchinson Trucker 19 1895 Single
BURT, William Shiftman 28 1886 Single
BURTON, William Trucker 27 1887 Married Widow & 2 children under 14 years
CASSON, Thomas Trucker 22 1892 Single
DARBY, James Deputy 57 1857 Married Widow & grown up family
DIXON, John Married Widow & 2 children under 14 years (In Australia)
GOWANS, William Under manager 43 1871 Married Widow & 1 child under 14
GREENER, John Shiftman 48 1866 Married Widow & grown up family
Hinchco, William Shiftman 37 1877 Married Widow & 2 children
HOLDEN, James Shiftman 58 1856 Married Widow & 1 child under 14
HOPPER, Fawcett Seymour Trucker 31 1883 Married Widow & 2 children under 14
IZATT, Alexander Onshovers assistant 17 1897 Single Died in Hamiton Hospital
JACKSON, Henry Clipper 24 1890 Single John's Brother; Samuel's son
JACKSON, John 26 1888 Henry's Brother; Samuel's son
JACKSON, Samuel Shiftman 54 1860 Married Widow & 1 child under 14 Severely burned - Died Waikato Hospital; 2 sons also died
JONES, John Roadman 49 1865 Married Widow
KELLY, William Contractor 36 1878 Married Widow & 1 child under 14
LYONS, Daniel Shiftman 62 1852 Married Grown up family
MALONEY, Charles Trucker 21 1893 Married Widow
MARTIN, John Trucker 29 1885 Single
MAYLAND, William Jnr Clipper 18 1896 Single
Mitchell, W Trucker Single
MOLESWORTH, Theophilus Engine-driver 29 1885 Married Widow & 1 child under 14
MUNSEY, Robert Shiftman 63 1851 Married
PATERSON, David Roadsman 36 1878 Married Widow & 5 children under 14 years
PATTERSON, William Contractor 44 1870 Married Leaves 7 motherless children
PECKHAM, Henry Senior deputy 45 1869 Married Widow & 7 children under 14 years
RANSON, Hugh Road-cleaner 39 1875 Married Widow & 1 grown up daughter
ROBINSON, John Trucker 28 1886 Married Widow & 1 child under 14
ROPER, William 36 1878 Married Widow & 4 children under 14 years (In England)
RUSTON, Arthur Roadman 28 1886 Married Widow & 1 child under 14
SKELLERN, John C. Deputy 36 1878 Married Four motherless children
SLAVIN, William Trucker 18 1896 Single
SMITH, William Deputy 62 1852 Married Widow & grown up family
STEELE, John Roundsman 40 1874 Married Widow & 5 children under 14 years
TAYLOR, Fred Winch driver 29 1885 Married Widow & 1 child under 14
THOMPSON, Jacob Horse-driver 18 1896 Single
WHORSKEY, John Deputy 36 1878 Married Widow & 6 children WHORSKLY (WHORSKY)

Miner Survivors

Survivors of the Ralph's Mine Explosion
Survivor Injuries AKA
Beckham, Alf Severely burned
Brocklebank, Jr, William Considerably cut & bruised
Brownlee, Joseph Escaped without Injury BROWNLIE
Easby, Thomas Escaped without Injury EARBY
Farrar, A Escaped without Injury
Fletcher, Daniel Escaped without Injury
Healey, Bernard Bruised arm
Hughes, Thomas
Mcgill, Patrick Escaped without Injury
Mcintosh, Alexander Escaped without Injury
Mitchell, William A Escaped without Injury
Mottram, Glen Body bruised and leg injured
O'Brien, Joseph Burned hands
Peckham, Alfred
Richards, James Escaped without Injury
Ritchie, Joseph
Stewart, Albert Escaped without Injury
Tollan, John Escaped without Injury TALLON
Wilkie, John Escaped without Injury
Young, James Escaped without Injury

Rescue Efforts

Others Involved/Supporters and the Aftermath


  1. Huntly Info
  2. Nancy Swarbrick, 'Waikato places - Huntly', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand



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